Chapter published in:Mass and Count in Linguistics, Philosophy, and Cognitive Science
Edited by Friederike Moltmann
[Language Faculty and Beyond 16] 2020
► pp. 61–82
A comparison of abstract and concrete mass nouns in terms of their interaction with quantificational determiners
In this paper, I compare concrete mass nouns such as water with abstract mass nouns derived from gradable adjectives like generosity in terms of their interaction with quantificational determiners. The main focus is on vague quantifiers such as a lot and little, on the one hand, and specificity markers such as a certain, on the other. In both cases the crucial factor setting the abstract mass nouns apart from the concrete ones is that the latter make available only a quantity/cardinality related scale for measurement and identification. The former, in contrast, give rise to an additional reading since they are associated with a second scale – namely one that orders the states denoted by the respective noun according to the degree with which they instantiate the corresponding property.
Keywords: mass nouns, gradability, states, quantification, specificity
Published online: 17 December 2020
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